Sail Away to the Galápagos Islands

North Central Circuit

This exciting route journeys to six of the Galápagos Islands, starting with the archipelago’s northernmost, Genovesa (“Tower”) Island. Prepare to saturate memory cards with prize-worthy images of red-footed boobies, great frigate birds and short-eared owls. Home to more than 30 species, this “Bird Island” lives up to its nickname, and these fearless feathered friends have no qualms about introducing themselves and invading your personal space. You’ll also have the opportunity to snorkel the surrounding waters of Bahia Darwin (Darwin Bay) on the lookout for schools of vibrantly colored tropical fish and hammerhead sharks.

On Santiago Island, you’ll traverse the craggy lava-hewn coastline of Sullivan Bay, hiking across ethereal remnants of previous lava flows. Then, you’ll hop onto the zodiac, keeping an eye out for curious penguins and possibly whales on your way to the stunning red-rock landscapes of Rábida Island to search for Darwin’s finches and snorkel among fur seals, marine iguanas and reef sharks.

At Gardener Bay on Española Island, venture under the sea with the prolific sea lion population before visiting the nesting colonies of waved albatross at Punta Suárez. You’ll end the trip on the island of Santa Cruz, patronizing the Charles Darwin Research Station and honing your photography skills on the wild giant tortoises roaming the rolling hills.

Western Circuit

This equally interesting route also visits six islands, several of which differ from the northern central route. You’ll begin the sojourn on Bartolomé, summiting the island to take in the grandeur of Pinnacle Rock, the triangular-shaped rock form that’s become an iconic symbol of the Galápagos Islands. Next, you’ll visit green turtle nesting sites or snorkel the crystalline waters among schools of parrotfish, eagle rays and fur seals.

On Fernandina Island, gawk at the stunning arid landscape of one of the Galápagos Islands’ largest volcanoes while blazing orange Sally Lightfoot crabs, flightless cormorants and charismatic marine iguanas ham it up for the lens.

Other highlights on this circuit include snorkeling with the penguins on Isabela Island and mailing postcards home from Post Office Bay on Floreana Island, an ancient yet functioning drop box. Zoom up close to a sea lion rookery aboard your zodiac, then head to Punta Cormorant to see some unlikely residents of the islands: pink flamingoes.

Galapagos islands

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Regardless of the itinerary, these incredibly diverse, wildlife-rich islands and the dazzling waters in between never fail to impress. All routings yield supreme encounters with the Galápagos Islands’ varied wildlife and surreal natural formations—and you’ll have the photos to prove it!